Reflecting on FFXIV’s big comeback, from launch to November’s Endwalker expansion

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In the industry, Final Fantasy XIV’s growth story has reached almost mythical status. After a rough launch, the second massively multiplayer online RPG in the Final Fantasy franchise needed rescue. Producer and director Naoki Yoshida, himself an avid MMO player, was the man tasked with this difficult undertaking, a process that helped him and his team lift the game from the ground up and reinvent it under an appropriate new name. Inspired to launch, Final Fantasy XIV: Reborn in a Realm.

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Endwalker’s brand new title screen, a scene that’s 19. will welcome the players ofth of November.

As a 1.0 player, I vividly remember Yoshida-san’s early introduction to the community. Aware of the awkwardness of the situation, the newly appointed producer chose to address the players directly. He introduced himself and his initial plans in what he called a “letter from the creator”—a written account to the community that set the tone for the two-way communication that persists to this day, initially to a handful of direct responses. Assess players using short, targeted surveys to assess expectations and desires for the game they were playing despite the turmoil.

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It was not until months later that the idea of ​​A Realm Reborn was formally introduced. Final Fantasy XIV will be “naked” to be reincarnated anew – both figuratively and quite literally. In 2012, after a climactic cinematic and months of increasingly gloomy in-game updates, the servers shut down. A few months later, A Realm Reborn will offer a whole new world to explore.

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Final Fantasy XIV’s final days before its closure and Final Fantasy 2.0 Reborn. The players had no idea what terror sleeps in the ominous red moon Dalmud…

Now, eight years after the release of A Realm Reborn and on the eve of the fourth and largest expansion ever, Final Fantasy XIV has over 24 million players and has become the most profitable title in the Final Fantasy franchise, a feat Thanks mainly to the hard work of Naoki Yoshida and his team.

As part of Square Enix’s recent media tour, I was able to play a preview version of its upcoming expansion, Endwalker. Along with content, this new behemoth of an update will raise the character level limit to 90 and introduce two brand-new playable jobs, a male version of the fan-favorite Vira Race, and a slew of raids, dungeons, and other new ones. Contents for MMOs. Tag-teaming with TheGamer’s fellow interviewer Jade King, I was able to get Naoki Yoshida’s thoughts on the current state of the game, the development of Endwalker, and his journey to this new release.

Now with the additional title of director, Yoshida still regularly hosts the producer’s own letters, presented today during livestreams in continuation of this decades-old tradition. Latest Installment, 66th To be precise, some of the exciting gameplay features to be introduced in the upcoming Endwalker expansion have been presented in detail, fueling the excitement of players around the world.

Yoshida has forged a unique relationship with the game’s community since the beginning of his involvement has become an important part of making Final Fantasy XIV special to its players. “From our point of view at XIV Team, we don’t think of players as just players,” he explains, “we really see them as our friends and part of our family, we are in this game together. Huh. .”

Perhaps most importantly, Endwalker will close the chapter of a story arc that stretches back to 2010, ahead of the game’s relaunch. Hydaelyn and Zodiark, the two gods of the realm, are prophesied to resolve their conflict with each other for eternity, the climax of the centuries-old saga. But we have 23. will have to waitthird To know more about the November…

Left – Sage controls four floating nauliths to improvise his allies, right – Reaper’s weapon of choice is a double-handed scythe.

In the preview, I tested out two brand new jobs: the mecha-inspired barrier healer Sage and the incredibly fast and powerful melee DPS Reaper. Both felt incredible to play, with Reaper offering a satisfying flow of attack stages that culminate in rapid, effervescent bursts of strong combos, and Sage demonstrating complex, pleasing-to-the-ear healing abilities. which seem primed to handle wave after wave oncoming. raid damage. The reworking of the design and overall capabilities of these two jobs point to interesting developments for the game’s ever-hungry scene.

The three new areas I was able to explore were an absolute dream for any Final Fantasy fan, featuring the gorgeous, ancient Greek-inspired Old Charlemagne, the culturally dense and colorful land of Thawnier, and his entire family. There was antagonistic, monochrome and cadaverous land. Garlemald, three lore-established realms XIV players have been yearning to explore from aeons.

Above – the fiery plains of Thawnier, below – the colorless ruins of Garlemald.

“Our approach to designing the new areas is a little different for each detail,” explains Yoshida, before clarifying: “In the case of Stormblood, for example, we had Ala Migo as a location. There was a space that was already established in the lore in Final Fantasy XIV, so we didn’t really have much freedom and leeway to incorporate our ideas for that space. What I did instead was those remaining Was wondering about areas that haven’t been shown to the player yet.

“Endwalker is going to mark the end of the saga of Heidelion and the Zodiac, so for this expansion, we’ve focused on the loose ends in the current story arc. Deciding on those aspects and creating maps for new areas along- Let’s go together, so in this respect, the process with Endwalker was a bit similar to what we did with Stormblood.

Alisai and Alfinod Lévilleur, twin descendants of the Seventh Dawn, who have both been at the center of FFXIV’s ongoing story, return to the Endwalker.

Of course, I was only able to play through a selection of several new environments introduced in Endwalker, some of which remain secret so players can experience them firsthand.

“There are some areas that we haven’t announced yet at Endwalker. I have no intention of announcing them until the game is released! I am really excited for the players to experience those areas and I am sure they will be surprised by what they will find. “

The construction of the game I played was clearly stripped of any hint of lore, carefully preserving the story wonder Endwalker has in store for its players.

Yoshida says, “I think if there’s one thing that really sets Final Fantasy XIV apart from other titles in the genre, it’s that we really want to make FFXIV a gold-standard, story-driven MMO. want.” “I think it’s a moot point of differentiation compared to other MMO titles.”

Reaper’s devastating border break as seen from behind

If FFXIV’s most recent expansion to Shadowbringers is any indication, Endwalker will certainly take players on an exciting journey of remarkable performances. In fact, Shadowbringers was so critically acclaimed that I just had to ask if the team was feeling any pressure with their follow-up.

“My case may be similar to that of a film director,” explains Yoshida. “When a film director works on a new creation, they always try to develop it to the best of their ability. They are always trying to make the best story, the best. thing that they can.

“I believe different players will have their own opinions and preferences. There may be some who enjoyed Heavensword better than Shadowbringers, and others who preferred the travel-focused adventure in Stormblood.”

“My approach has always been to go one step further and raise the level we have set before, striving to create something better with each installment.”

The sage’s determination seen from the front was broken

“Having said that,” he continues, “Endwalker will really close the Hydelin and Zodiac saga, which has continued through the original launch of XIV and through all our previous expansions. In that sense we Working towards a bigger climax.As a standalone expansion, Quantity [of story] Endwalker is huge. There really is a lot to pass on.

“I’d be happy if… after you’ve played through the entire Endwalker, why don’t you go through the previous expansion and play again? Then you might be able to appreciate the direction we’ve taken with Endwalker. And all the complicated things we’ve done with the plot.”

This last sentence certainly leaves a lot to the imagination, and I’m sure many players can’t wait to experience the end of this decade-long story for themselves…

Endwalker launches on November 23, with early access starting November 19 for those who pre-ordered. see you then!

This article is based on the play of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker’s in-development build, and content in the final version is subject to change. The interview answers have been slightly edited to improve brevity and fluency. FFXIV 1.0 Screenshots kindly provided by fellow Meteor survivor and decade-long Erzine friend Len Quorum.

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